Transit workers, AFL-CIO mourn mass shooting at union meeting
Valley Transportation Authority workers near the scene of a mass shooting in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 26. 2021. | Randy Vazquez / Bay Area News Group via AP

SAN JOSE, Calif. (PAI)—Perhaps it was inevitable in an era of mass shootings nationwide, but one finally hit the union movement personally, at the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority in San Jose, Calif., on May 26. It’s the 15th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year.

The death toll of ten, including the shooter, occurred at a meeting there of its Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 members in the rail yard.

“Every life taken by a bullet takes part of the life of our nation,” Democratic President Joe Biden said as he ordered the U.S. flag lowered to half-staff in memoriam to the dead. He again urged senators to pass gun control legislation, which the GOP opposes.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the multiple fatalities and injuries” in San Jose, ATU President John Costa said. “Our hearts and prayers are with our sisters, brothers, and their families” at the local. “We are working to provide support and assistance to the victims’ families and everyone impacted by this tragic event.”

“It has been a difficult year for transit workers, but today hit especially hard,” ATU added in announcing a relief fund for the workers’ families.

“ATU suffered an incredible loss at a Santa Clara VTA rail yard where our Local 265 members work. There were multiple fatalities and injuries. Nobody should ever have to worry about walking into their jobs and fear for their safety. Survivors of this horrific shooting will be dealing with the aftermath for a very long time.

“Our members always supported our brothers and sisters in dire need, and now it’s time we show support again. We call on all ATU Locals and members to help our San Jose brothers and sisters impacted by this tragic shooting by contributing through the ATU Disaster Relief Fund,” online at the union website or by check addressed to Costa at the union headquarters.

Flags fly at half-mast at ATU headquarters. | Courtesy of ATU

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was also upset.

“This morning, another mass shooting happened in America. Every mass shooting is a tragedy. But this mass shooting hits close to home because the victims are our brothers and sisters. We still don’t know all the details, but we know this senseless act of violence happened at an Amalgamated Transit Union meeting in San Jose. It’s hard to take in, I know.

“I’m sad. I’m angry. But we are a family. Families grow together, celebrate together, and grieve together. And over this past year, our family has had way too much grief. It’s a reminder our work is great and our time together is never long enough. May God bless the memories of the brothers and sisters we lost today, and may God give their loved ones strength.”

Gun-wielders have murdered union members in other mass shootings. Two of the most prominent saw teachers union members get shot along with their students: Six teachers in Sandy Hook, Conn., along with 20 elementary school students in 2012, and three teachers and 14 students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in 2018. That killing launched the student-led Fight for our Lives nationwide gun control movement, and sent Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten onto the hustings for that cause, too.

Help the families affected by making a donation to the Amalgamated Transit Union Disaster Relief Fund.

Donations can also be made by check mailed to:

Amalgamated Transit Union
Disaster Relief Fund
5025 Wisconsin, Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
Attn: Lawrence J. Hanley


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).